Betaine increases muscle mass by 5.3 pounds over placebo

Betaine is an amino acid derivative. Its role as a potential athletic enhancer has only been looked at in a few studies, but that research has revealed some interesting findings.

Betaine primarily works as an osmolyte (a substance that attracts water), whereby it protects cells during periods of dehydration by increasing cellular water content. Betaine may also play a role in choline metabolism and other methyl donating reactions which are increasingly being linked to general health and the preferential use of fat for fuel.

My research colleagues performed a study to test the effects of betaine on strength and power performance. After performing a battery of performance tests, healthy resistance-trained men supplemented with betaine (1.25 grams twice per day) or placebo for 14 days. They then performed the same battery of tests. After a washout period they crossed over and did the same 14 day supplementation protocol with the other supplement. Compared to placebo, betaine supplementation improved bench press power, isometric bench press force, vertical jump power, and isometric squat force.

In a follow-up study, we showed that betaine supplementation increased anabolic hormone response to resistance exercise and anabolic signaling in skeletal muscle, which is consistent with an overall greater potential for building muscle mass.

A recent study confirmed these anabolic effects in a resistance training study where two groups supplemented with betaine (2.5 g/day) or placebo for 6 weeks. The betaine group was able to increase their training volume to a greater extent and showed decreased fat mass (-6.4 pounds) and increased lean body mass (5.3 pounds), whereas the placebo group showed essentially no change. These studies point to betaine as a beneficial supplement for improving the body’s response to exercise training. Betaine is an ingredient that is typically found as one of the many ingredients in pre-workout formulas.

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